Timber is at the root of Rayonier's business. The real estate investment trust (REIT) owns and manages timberlands, grows and sells timber, and manufactures Southern pine lumber, specialty cellulose fibers, and fluff pulp used in absorbent consumer products. The company owns, leases, or manages nearly 2.5 million acres of timberland and real estate in the US, in addition to some 300,000 acres in New Zealand through a joint venture. Rayonier operates two cellulose fiber mills and three lumber sawmills in Georgia and Florida. About half of the company's revenue comes from outside the US. Three customers -- Eastman Chemical Company, Celanese, and Nantong Cellulose -- account for more than a third of sales.
Rayonier is developing some of its timberlands into more profitable real estate, particularly along the coastlines of Florida and Georgia where it owns some 200,000 acres. Its TerraPointe subsidiary develops single- and multi-family residential properties, as well as commercial and industrial space on non-strategic timberland. Rayonier continues to acquire timberland, including some 400,000 acres in 2011, mainly in the Gulf Coast region.
In 2013 the REIT sold its wood products business to Interfor for about $80 million.
The REIT's performance fibers unit produces some 25 different grades of cellulose products and absorbent fibers used in textiles, air filters, tires, detergents, and disposable diapers. Nearly two-thirds of these fiber products are exported to Europe and Asia. Export demands from the latter market in particular helped drive sales and earnings growth in 2011, offsetting continued weak demand for lumber due to the depressed housing market. That year Rayonier converted one of its fluff pulp mills into a specialty cellulose mill to keep up with increased demand for its performance fibers.
In 2010 Rayonier sold a portion of its stake in its New Zealand timberland joint venture, Matariki Forests, which owns or leases 340,000 acres there. Phaunos Timber Fund acquired 35% of the venture, leaving Rayonier with a 26% stake. Proceeds were used to reduce debt.
The company was founded in 1926 as a pulp and paper manufacturer in Shelton, Washington. Its name is derived from rayon (a manufactured cellulosic fiber) and Mount Rainier, which is in Washington. – less